Housetraining our pets is considered a necessity; we all have the understanding that it must be done and that it’s our responsibility to instruct our pets accordingly. Puppies and kittens need to be trained (though the latter mostly trains themselves) but this information is usually familiar to us because we’ve seen the training techniques before.
However, in the pet rats’ case, there might not be as much commonly shared know-how.
How to stop pet rats from peeing everywhere? One of the most effective ways to stop your rat from peeing everywhere is to litter/potty train them. However, if your rat is marking with small droplets of pee then this is normal behavior but there are a number of ways to manage this if you find it an issue.
How do you stop your pet rats from peeing everywhere? Firstly, we need to understand why what the difference is between peeing and marking. Depending on the reason, we can help guide our pet rats to express greater etiquette as a housemate.
Why Do Pet Rats Pee Everywhere?
If you notice your pet rat is urinating outside of their cage, it’s important to differentiate between puddles and droplets, as this will give you a clue to the underlying root of their actions.
- Puddles are more often seen when a rat is frightened, in pain, or has decided to take a fondness in peeing where they shouldn’t.
- Droplets are a common occurrence as this is how rats mark their surroundings.
Herein lies the difference between peeing and marking; two connected yet starkly different actions which stem from dissimilar motives.
My Pet Rat is Peeing Everywhere
Finding puddles of urine on the floor or soaked into the bedsheets can put just about anyone in a bad mood. However, take into account that the pet rat who left the puddle may have been feeling worse.
Unless a rat has woken up from a long nap leaving them with a full bladder, they don’t tend to leave large puddles around.
Sizable volumes of urine frequently indicate that the pet rat was frightened or even experience pain during the time of their accident.
If this is the case, be sure to comfort your pet rat accordingly. Placing them back in their cage or providing them with a safe place is usually a good idea, and attempting to understand or remove the offending source of fear for the future will ensure fewer spooks turn to spills.
My Pet Rat is Marking
Small droplets here, a trail of dribbles there. Marking refers to the behavior of depositing minute volumes of urine for informational purposes. Rats do so because it’s how they’re programmed; thousands of years of evolution isn’t going to change overnight simply because it’s a bit of a nuisance for us.
These droplets don’t arise from incontinence or unwillingness to use their cage or litterbox. Instead, these markings are used to communicate with other rats info such as:
- Age, Sex, Reproductive Availability
- Territory, Tracking, and Whereabouts
- and Alleged Food Safety
It’s possible that your rat has taken a fancy to some blanket, article of clothing, or electronic device and was unable to contain this excitement. As the adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Don’t tempt fate; keep these items away from pet rats and take caution when allowing them access to bedding or couches.
Tips to Reduce Pet Rat Peeing and Marking Behaviors
In terms of getting rid of this trait entirely, it’s impossible. However, pet rats are highly suggestible creatures and usually respond well to positive feedback.
- The more familiar a rat is with their surroundings, the less likely they are to insist on marking excessively.
- Pet rats aren’t usually fond of the scent of unknown animals or stranger rats; keeping mysterious animals away from pet rats may reduce their affinity to mark everything.
Some owners will neuter their male rats in order to try and eliminate or reduce the urine marking, this can have mixed results and won’t typically won’t completely eradicate the problem. I haven’t ever gone down this route to try and solve a peeing issue as the operation is painful for the rat and also comes with its risk.
There are pros and cons to neutering a rat so be sure to properly do your research on the topic and you feel comfortable with your choice.
Ultimately, having pet rats who take part in marking is part of the experience of owning pet rats. This behavior isn’t something that should lead to foul smells as long as the owner is cleaning the cage and assorted accessories consistently.
I tend to wear old clothes that I wash every once in a while when handling and playing with our rats, that way they are familiar with their own smells and tend to mark less.
If you are thinking of using essential oils, DON’T, you can find out why here in one of our other articles.
Rats are remarkably clever, and they catch on quickly to the training they receive from their owners. In the beginning, most pet rats will elect to use a specific area or corner of their cage as the bathroom; we can utilize this behavior to encourage the rat to use a distinct box as a bathroom instead.
The earlier rats are introduced to litterbox training the better adherence they will have to the idea. Luckily for pet rat owners, teaching rats about litterboxes comes fairly easy, and will likely become a solid habit with a bit of encouragement.
How to Get a Pet Rat to Use a Litter Box
Take a look in the rats’ cage, where is the majority of their bathroom mess? Place the litterbox in that exact location. While many rats choose specific spots, some don’t. If that’s the case, simply place the litterbox wherever you think is best.
Fill the litterbox with a different substrate to their bedding to differentiate the area, this will help your rats identify the litterbox. Toss some fecal pellets into the fresh litterbox, this suggests to the rats that here will be the new appropriate place for wastes.
It may take a few weeks for them to clue in but keep at it. Remember to tidy their cage daily during this time by transferring all soiled leavings into the litterbox, helping to drive the point home.
What Litter Should I Use
Whatever material will be used in the litterbox should not be used on the cage floor; this may lead to confusion as to where the boundaries of the litterbox end and the rest of the cage begins.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Pellet Bedding: there are many varieties on the market. Pellet bedding is produced from 100% recycled paper, cellulose fiber, or compressed kiln-dried wood fibers which will expand and absorb moisture on contact.
- Shredded Paper: this material will have to be changed frequently as it tends to turn to mush when wet. Varieties found in pet stores are usually 100% recycled material that is dust-free but be sure to read the label (important for preventing irritation to the respiratory tract of our pet rats).
- Cloth: best for pets or people who need something allergy safe. Look for cloth that remains intact and doesn’t unweave easily, as this could pose a risk should it get wound around a limb or otherwise caught on a rat. Remember to use hypoallergenic laundry detergent when washing any cloth bedding as rats can be particularly sensitive. An additional rinse to ensure all cleaners have been removed is a good idea.
Never use cat litter for your rats litterbox, it’s too dusty and or scented and will harm your rat.
What is a Pee Rock
Pee rocks are a litterbox accessory that encourages marking, thereby persuading pet rats to conduct their business wherever the rocks are placed. The ideal pee rock will be a third of the size of your rat and have a smooth flat surface.
Place one or a small cluster (space permitting) of these pee rocks in the litterbox. It is theorized that the rock stands out and draws the attention of the rats, who will then deposit their markings accordingly during their litterbox visits.
My rat Moet loves to pee on a metal lamp floor stand, the amount of pee from literally seconds of him walking across it is quite remarkable. I do tend and remove it before free-roaming to avoid the mess.
The best time to implement this trick is after a regular cage cleaning. Either save some soiled substrate or allow their new litterbox to go through a few uses prior to placing the pee stone. Having the toilet area be messier than the rest of the cage will help to cement the idea that the area is for bathroom usage only.
Do Pet Rats Pee on Everything? No, pet rats don’t pee on everything. However, they will gladly mark almost everything! The difference is in the amount of urine supplied. Peeing will leave puddles, whereas marking will leave droplets or smears.
Why Does My Pet Rat Pee on Me? The same reason pet rats pee on other rats, objects, or various locations in their environment: they’re marking it. Rats feel their best when their surroundings smell similarly to themselves, hence they work their own scent into the equation.
Is Pet Rat Pee Dangerous? No, as long as we’re talking about pet rats who have their health monitored via vet checkups and are not allowed to frolic amongst wild rat populations. Pet rat urine is non-toxic.
Can Cat Litter Be Used for Pet Rats? No, most clay cat litters on the market are too dusty and scented to be used for pet rats and should be avoided at all costs. There are better alternatives that are specifically manufactured for rats and other rodents.
How Often Should a Pet Rat Cage Be Cleaned? It’s a good idea to spot clean the cage throughout the week, but it’s essential to fully clean the cage at least once per week. Wash all bedding that can be laundered, and toss the rest. Wipe the cage down with a white vinegar/water solution. Adhering to a consistent cleaning schedule will ensure no foul smells begin to emerge from your pets’ home.